Sandals Foundation Spreads The Love in The Caribbean
PHOTO: The Sandals Foundation was created seven years ago to improve the lives of the residents in all eight islands of the Caribbean where the Resorts are located. (Courtesy Sandals Resorts)
Gender equality, literacy, education and healthcare do not sound like vacation topics, because when travelers think about resort trips to the Caribbean, they focus on fun in the sun and what resorts can do for them. Fortunately, some resorts go beyond what they can do for their guests and work on what they can also do for their community as well.
The Sandals Foundation is a nonprofit arm of the Sandals Resorts, and was created seven years ago to improve the lives of the residents in all eight islands of the Caribbean where the Resorts are located. Their focus has been in three core areas: education, community, and the environment, and all of the monies raised by the general public go directly to programs benefiting the Caribbean community.
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These events have included book drives, book drives, literacy programs, and fundraising for new libraries and computer facilities, scholarships, health care initiatives and programs
Last month, the Sandals Foundation partnered with The Bob Marley Foundation to address the issue of gender inequality in the Caribbean with the introduction of Women Helping Others Achieve (WHOA). It’s a multi-year women’s empowerment program designed to provide support, mentorship, education and skills training to help marginalized women across Jamaica and the Caribbean. Cedella Marley, eldest daughter of global legend Bob Marley and CEO of the Marley Group of Companies, is the Good Will Ambassador for WHOA.
“Through WHOA, we have an opportunity to address and close the gender gap, which is essential to our region’s ability to break the cycle of poverty,” says Heidi Clarke, Director of Programs for the Sandals Foundation in a release.
In Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, at-risk children participate in the Sandals Foundation After-School Care and Extended Support Program in partnership with the Saint Lucia Crisis Center. The program offers a safe environment, dancing and other exercise activities, a balanced meal and lessons on proper hygiene, good manners for the children as well as spiritual and educational assistance.
Keeping kids healthy and educated has been a major focus for the Foundation, which has increased the number of local oncologists and assisted with funding vital medical equipment. The Foundation has trained over a thousand teachers and handed out 136 scholarships. In January, three new libraries were presented to the Grenadian schools to help improve literacy for a total of eight since the program began, thanks to their partnership with Hands Across the Sea. During the past three years the Foundation and Hands Across the Sea, has put over 12,440 brand books into the hands of 6,850 children at 26 primary schools, secondary schools and community programs on the islands of Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada. They also participated in the building of the first environmentally friendly school as well as other pre-schools.
And because the marine environment in the Caribbean is declining, local waters are overfished, many species are endangered and coral reefs have declined, the Foundation is working hard to reduce the negative impact that humans have had on the environment. The coral nursery, part of the Boscobel Marine Sanctuary, is the product of their partnership with CARIBSAVE and Coral Restoration Foundation International.
"This coral nursery will produce over 1000 coral per year to be replanted out on to the natural reefs in the surrounding area," says Sandals Foundation Environmental Officer Jonathan Hernould.
They have also created educational turtle watching tours.
Sandals Resorts provides opportunities for guests to give back while they are vacationing. The Reading Road Trip initiative, was created to help improve literacy, comprehension and vocabulary skills among students 5-7 years of age, allows guests to visit an adopted school for a nominal, tax-deductible donation. Pack for a Purpose allows vacationers to bring up to five pounds of needed supplies to the island they are visiting.
To learn more about the Sandals Foundation, visit online at www.sandalsfoundation.org.
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